Preparing For Worship – R.G. Huff.
Has anyone asked you what you are giving up for Lent? It’s not a question many Baptists are asked, I guess, but it happens!
You may notice this morning that for this Lenten season, we at Wilshire are giving up the way our worship order is arranged. We’re going to begin with the Chiming of the Hour and conclude with the Benediction and Postlude, but in between, things may seem out of order.
The church where I ministered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, had a tradition of “taking on” something for Lent instead of “giving up” something. We were encouraged during these 40 days to step outside our routine and do the kingdom some good as we accompany Christ to Jerusalem’s cross. Perhaps work in a soup kitchen or a food bank for the first time, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, tutor someone for whom English is not their first language, volunteer at the local hospital — these kinds of Christ-like adventures.
These remaining Sundays of Lent, I’m going to think of this alteration of the worship order not as giving up something familiar but as taking on something new … perhaps fresh and engaging … perhaps sharpening my senses, making me more alert to the voice of the One whose path to the table, the garden, the courtroom, the indignations and ultimately to Golgotha — the voice that might speak to us in ways we may have long overlooked in the routine.
In the same way we silence our phones during this hour, let’s also silence all those other distractors which interfere with our communion with the Most Holy One, not only as we approach the communion table (albeit earlier than usual today!), but throughout the service when in perfect submission, we can find rest, as in our Savior we are assuredly blessed.
We are not giving up order for chaos. We are taking on refreshed awareness of the lessons to be learned and applied as we continue to become the church God meant us to be.